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Activist: Budget not sensitive to gender

Friday, September 13, 2013

A national gender policy must become an imperative, if there is to be gender-responsive budgeting, says executive director Folade Mutota of the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development. In e-mailed responses to the T&T Guardian on Wednesday on the Government’s plans to introduce gender-responsive budgeting, Mutota said gender-responsive budgeting must be informed by a national gender policy and T&T does not have a gender policy.



She said there has to be a national gender policy on which to develop gender-responsive budgeting guidelines. “If government accepts that matters related to gender equity and equality must be addressed, then a national gender policy becomes an imperative,” she said. 


Finance and the Economy Minister Larry Howai announced in Monday’s budget presentation that the gender-responsive guidelines were being developed for institutionalising gender-equality and gender-mainstreaming practices in government ministries and that the guidelines will make the case for a sufficient financial allocation to be made to active gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment.


Gender-responsive budgeting or sometimes gender-sensitive budgeting means, according to the Web site for network of east to west women, a variety of processes and tools, which attempt to assess the impact of government budgets, mainly at national level, on different groups of men and women, through recognising the ways in which gender relations underpin society and the economy.


It seeks to execute the budget so it benefits both women and men, girls and boys equitably, it monitors, according to PDF on Gender Responsive Budgeting Initiative, Pakistan, the impact of expenditure and revenue raising from a gender perspective. It also takes into account, the care economy which, according to a UNDP gender responsive budgeting manual, includes unpaid labour done mainly by women. 


Asked if enough was said by Howai on the issue of gender budgeting in his presentation, Mutota said there was no point in saying much about something not being pursued. She said a commitment to gender-responsive budgeting will start with a commitment to a gender policy.


“For example, the reference to gender-responsive budgeting appears under the ‘reform agenda’ section of the budget statement and has actually been added to a number of other politically charged issues which the Government has been promising to reform since 2010. The Government has made reference to gender-responsive budgeting in the past,” she said.


The issue of a national gender policy has been in fore with several groups calling for its implementation. Former gender minister Verna St Rose Greaves released the last draft of the gender policy she was privy to before leaving office and the Government last year. 
Former gender minister Marlene Coudray was quoted in a T&T Guardian article in May as saying that gay rights will not be a part of the Government’s draft national gender policy.


Clifton De Coteau was appointed as Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development at the cabinet reshuffle last week Thursday. 


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